Sunday, September 18, 2016

Coloring Outside the Lines: Mini Challenge Week 3



We’ve all heard the term “coloring outside the lines,” and whether you apply the term figuratively or literally, that’s exactly where we’re going with today’s challenge.

Coloring-in outlined images is one of the joys of using stamps and digis as you well know. It allows folks to start with a flat image, and to essentially bring it to life. It was my experience as an art student years ago that the concept of starting your artwork with an outline is a bit of a, well, a non-starter. We were taught not to think linearly. They try to break you of the habit of drawing in outlines. We are instead encouraged to think in values: light, dark, and all the gradients of highlight and shadow in between. We practice it like crazy using different approaches, techniques, and ways of thinking. It’s not that beginning art students are taught to completely avoid lines or outlines, rather quite the contrary. The goal is to learn to adjust your line quality — the width of the line, the intensity with which the line is drawn — to reflect what we are seeing.

I’d venture to say that what art classes really teach you is not really how to be an artist but moreso how to look at things. How to consider. How to determine what to limit and what to embrace. How to figure out what speaks to you and how you want to reflect that creatively with your media of choice. Henri Matisse said:  

“I don’t paint things. I only paint the difference between things.”

Yes, Henri, YES! (Or, I suppose it should be Oui, Henri, OUI!) When I approach coloring one of my stamp designs, I have to confess, I cannot stay in the lines. I don’t want to! I feel that the area around the stamped image is just as important as the area inside. The “negative space.” You may notice in my work that I tend to draw shadow beneath and around objects. By the time the image makes it to you, believe me, I’ve probably already erased about half the shadow I originally put in the drawing. I tend to forget that you guys are going to die-cut or fussy-cut these drawings to be a part of a larger, unique creation for a card or project, which is of course FABULOUS. But my instinct as an artist is to just keep going. To illustrate what I see, or what I imagine, or what I feel.


For the third Mini Challenge, I want you to look at things differently.

Power & Sparklette: Week 3
Color outside the lines — whatever that means to you.

Whether it is literally coloring outside the lines, coloring beyond the lines, or coloring ON TOP of the lines. Perhaps it is figuratively coloring outside the lines — trying a technique that is new to you. We are gonna try to stretch ourselves on this one. And folks, you don’t have to complete a card. Just get your coloring materials out, stamp or print out an image, and see what happens when you color outside the lines. Whatever that may mean to you.

Here’s what I made when trying to color outside the lines, using one of two free downloads I illustrated from of the winning quotes from our Week 1 Challenge.


I began with a print-out of the Let It Be digital coloring sheet. I enlarged the image to 125% and changed the opacity to 70% so the black outline wouldn’t dominate. I started painting swooshes of Indigo Blue gouache paint with a very wet sable paintbrush all around the perimeter of the art, and actually painted right over Sir Paul McCartney’s name. Sorry, Paul! I let the blue go inside and in between the leaves. I decided to give some color to the LEAVES ONLY. Coloring outside the lines for me was literal, but I also had a goal of leaving something white. It is so hard for me not to touch every single darn white space on the paper. 

So I deepened all of my blues and my green shadows. I cross-hatched and finetuned, I added more color to the leaves, even dulled out the greens with red, and then started putting blue on the leaves to connect the background to the foreground. More shading, more lines, more color, more shading. More fun in the background to really push the lettering to be the most prominent aspect of the work.

But my ladies, let me tell you, I wanted to color in the letters. OHHHHH I wanted to so badly!! I almost did. But I couldn’t help but be affected by what the image was shouting at me in all caps: “LET IT BE”. 

Was it a message from the Universe? Can’t I even put some little dots in there? “LET IT BE”. 

Oh. Are you sure I can’t just shade inside the edges of each letter with some yellow? “LET IT BE”. 

Finally I decided to listen, and I let it be.


And you know what, I rather like how it turned out! Note, I did end up coloring inside the lines a little bit — whoops! — but those were just a part of the artistic process. Elements of human touch. And I let them be!

Now it’s your turn! 

Share with us your interpretation of Coloring Outside the Lines here on the blog using the InLinks button below.

On Instagram, please share your coloring creations using the hashtag #powerandsparklette — and we will come find you!!

I will choose a winner from the entries, and that colorist will receive every set in our 2016 Holiday Clear Stamp Collection when they debut in October.

I hope to see a big show and tell of coloring experimentation — it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it shouldn’t be perfect. It should reflect your inner artistry. Your ability to see things, and to try things. Because you, my friend, are Courageous and Creative, and ALWAYS Awesome.


21 comments:

  1. I love your creations Marcy. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm....scratching my head.........out of my comfort zone huh, must say I don't venture there that much. Ha.

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  2. Yikes! It's hard to let it be sometimes, but what freedom! It will be interesting to see the link ups when they're available. Looks like it's not yet available. I'll keep an eye out. Your results are awesome. Love those hash marks and all that brilliant, rich color.

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    1. Leslie, thank you for the nice note, I had fun working on this. Coloring in one of my designs is a challenge for me, too, but a rewarding one! :) I wanted to check back too about the Link — it should be there. It make take a few moments to load but we already have one awesome entry from Lisa... (see her note above scratching her head... she must not have taken too long because she already came up with something really neat!)

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  3. This is sheer perfection, Marcella! Love everything about it. Thanks for the inspiration. It's going to be fun to see the entries!

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    1. Patti, you make me feel good, thank you! It was a real challenge for me, not joking one bit there. I love to cover every surface with SOMETHING decorative. It's probably not healthy. I'm working on it... In the meantime, I hope you’ll find more inspiration and whip up something, too! Would love to see what you'll come up with.

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  4. Wow Marcella, I Love the bold blues and how makes it really pop! The touch of green leaves makes me feel like the white letters are just popping out much like a bloom bursting forth! Letting it be was a Good thing! Makes me think more about backgrounds :)

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    1. Oh gosh, I'm so glad that you felt that it was bursting forth — that’s precisely what I was going for. A bit of an oxymoron, actually... a powerful way to convey a very quiet message. :) I hope you’ll find time to make something to share. I’d love to see!

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  5. Oh, Marcy, what a fabulous challenge, and I LOVE the idea too when it comes to the Paul McCartney "Let It Be." You have know idea how many times I have told myself when I'm coloring, "Okay, it's time to let it me!!" Hehe! Wonderful challenge, and I hope to do something with it. I love it and LOVE your coloring of this digi! Hugs!

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    1. Cheryl, I think you are very good at "Letting It Be" as far as I can tell with your beautiful work. By the time we see what you've made, it always looks divine. So your inner source of "it's time to let it be" must be chiming in at the perfect moment. xoxo Thank you for the nice words, too!

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  6. This Challenge scares me! lol But I will try! :) Your creation is beautiful and fabulous! Hope you framed it as a little reminder! ;)

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    1. Come on, Donnnnnna! You got this, honey! And thank you for the nice words — no time to frame, too busy drawing new stuff! hehe!

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  7. Fantastic sample card for your challenge. Thanks for the great free digi...now I have that song in my head.

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    1. Linda, welcome to my brain! I have been singing it for days now. :) Loved your card for the challenge — I’m so happy that you made something to share here. Nice stretching!

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  8. Hmmm...this is a real challenge to me. I like things all lined up neat and orderly. I'll have to think on this one and see if I am brave enough to join in the fun!! Love your example and the others that have linked up!!

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    1. Danni, I TOTALLY get it. I am right there with you and have a hard time branching out. I think I started this challenge for ALL of us, me included! Hope we’ll all grow a little bit as artists. :)

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  9. Can I use any Power Poppy set or does it have to be one of your free ones from week 1?

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    1. Hi Gabriella! You can use any stamp that strikes your fancy!! So glad you’re going to share with us here!

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  10. Oh my goodness, love your take on this. That blue is so lovely. Thank you for the chance to play along.

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  11. Wow!! This is beautiful!! I'm really scared to try it! But hopefully I'll do it!!

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  12. I love how this turned out!! I am going to give the a try.

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  13. Oh, how many depths of blue...such a cool effect on your card, Marcella!! I love this challenge and thinking outside the box with color! So many beautiful entries this week,too!!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts.

I love to hear what you’re thinking and I read and appreciate each and every note!

~marcella